Fond Memories

Now that Alberto Gonzales has resigned from his position as Attorney General, the Right is desperately trying to put together some complimentary parting remarks about his pathetic performance in office  – and so far this is the best they have been able to come up with:

“Alberto Gonzales’ work as White House counsel filling judicial vacancies with qualified nominees who respect the Constitution will have a lasting effect in bringing integrity back to our courts,” said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative lobbying group. “His example, coming from humble beginnings as one of eight children and as the son of migrant workers to becoming U.S. attorney general, should inspire others to achieve the American dream.”

This, of course, provides us with an opportunity to take a look back at 2005 when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement.  At the time, rumors swirled that President Bush was considering nominating Gonzales to fill her seat and the Right was apoplectic:

Newsweek correctly states that “Gonzales is the only A-list contender who religious conservatives pledge, upfront, to fight.” The article quotes Tom Minnery of Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family saying outright about a potential Gonzales nomination: “We’d oppose him.”

In the same article, Manuel Miranda, head of the recently formed coalition of extreme conservative groups called the “Third Branch Conference” and a former Frist staffer fired for unethically reading internal Democratic judiciary staff communications, warned that a Gonzales nomination could doom the Republican Party in upcoming elections: “If the president is foolish enough to nominate Al Gonzales, what he will find is a divided base that will take it out on candidates in 2006.” Miranda went on to threaten retribution against Florida Governor Jeb Bush, if he decides to run for president. “We’re not Republican patsies,” he said. “Jeb Bush can go sell insurance.”

In the same article, Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime radical and extreme right leader, said “Bush was very clear, and certainly his constituents believed him, when he said he would appoint justices like Scalia and Thomas. We are not in favor of Gonzales.” One of the reasons for the intensity of the opposition to Gonzales is that the Right feels that they were betrayed by President Reagan with his nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor who was, according to Schlafly, “a terrible disappointment.”

The National Review made its opposition to a Gonzales nomination clear in an editorial entitled “No to Justice Gonzales”: “[The] president has to know that conservatives, his supporters in good times and bad, would be appalled and demoralized by a Gonzales appointment. It would place his would-be successors in the Senate in a difficult position, forcing them to choose between angering conservatives by voting for Gonzales and saying no to him. If Democrats attack Gonzales . . . conservatives will not rally to his defense.”

At the time, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins warned that if President Bush nominated Gonzales “what you would hear would be [what] sounds like slashing the tires of the conservative movement” and stated that “our position on Attorney General Gonzales is, he holds great promise as an attorney general.” 

Well, Perkins’s first prediction was probably accurate, but his second couldn’t have been more wrong.